We all know how important regular exercise is when it comes to staying fit and healthy, but even for a simple workout, you still need to know what you’re doing.
Simply going to the gym and giving your best effort to make a good training session might be enough to keep your body in some average shape, but if you’re really looking to get great results, there are a few other things that you need to consider doing. One of them is stretching, and that’s exactly what we’re here to talk about today. Let’s take a look.
Stretching your body is something that should be done every morning, but if you’re not really a morning person and you don’t like to engage in any physical activity as soon as you get up, you can leave this for after your workout session. In fact, it might be even more beneficial to stretch your muscles right after exercise.
What is stretching?
In order to stretch your muscles, you need to perform a few different movements that are “unpleasant” to do at the moment because your body is used to being “stiff”.
The thing is, our modern lives force us to be like that, and if we are not utilizing stretching on a regular basis, our bodies are just getting tensed as each day goes by. This can result in a really bad physical condition when you get older, so if you want to avoid this, it is advisable that you keep reading.
How much is “enough” stretching?
Now, although this is very important to do, you shouldn’t force your body to a point where an injury might happen. Let’s say that you want to stretch your leg muscles, and you want to increase the flexibility of your lower body.
In order to achieve this, you can do many different legs stretches, but let’s take the famous “split” movement as an example. If you were to do a split, and you’re still a total beginner at stretching, you shouldn’t force your body to a point where you can get injured.
It is very important to find that perfect point where the “good type of pain” is not transitioning into the “injury type of pain”, if that makes sense. Stretching hurts, that’s the truth, but it is very healthy and beneficial for your body.
Just like working out and tearing down your muscle fibers hurts, you get the exact same thing with stretching. Now, if it really starts hurting a lot, you should stop doing it.
You need to force your body, but not too much. Reap the benefits, but don’t get injured. And, while we’re at benefits, let’s take a look at some of the best things that you get out of regular stretching after each workout.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to do the legendary Van Damme split, although that is quite possible as well, but you will feel a lot better with a flexible body. If you are a person who loves working out, you will notice that all of the movements you’re performing at the gym will suddenly become easier to do.
Muscle strength is not the only thing that is important, and there are a few studies which show us that increased flexibility can sometimes mean increased strength as well. It just feels super amazing to have a body that can adapt to any situation.
Increased range of motion
If you are trying to achieve the body of your dreams, you’re probably looking forward to building some more muscle. In order to build muscle, you need to perform all of the gym exercises with a full range of motion. However, some bodies are so stiff that the range of motion is greatly decreased because of that.
If you’re practicing stretching and you’re slowly becoming more flexible, your range of motion will also increase. This means that you will build more muscle simply because your movements will be “all the way down”.
Let’s say that you’re doing squats for example, but your body is not flexible enough to reach the required depth in order to make the lift “legit”. By quarter-squatting or going just half the way through, you’re basically missing out on free gains.
How to stretch?
There are numerous ways that you can stretch, and there isn’t exactly a rule when it comes to doing it properly. You can choose whatever works best for you, but if you are a beginner, it is advisable that you use stretching machines in order to avoid injury and increase efficiency. For more information, you can visit Smartmma.
How frequently should I stretch?
You can stretch after every workout session, it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about going to the gym or playing any kind of sport. Or, if you’re just exercising let’s say three times per week, you can add another extra day or two anytime you want. Stretching can be done every day, but for some people that sounds like a lot of work, so they split it in a few days over the entire week. Every other day is fine, although 7 days per week will give you better results, obviously.
You are relaxing your muscles
So, so far we’ve learned that stretching can increase strength and muscle growth indirectly, by increasing your range of motion. Those two benefits are pretty amazing, but that’s not all. After every training session, your body is under a lot of stress and tension, especially if you really went “hard” on that day.
In order to relax your muscles, you can perform a couple of basic stretches, specifically for the muscle groups that you worked that day. Even runners stretch their legs both before and after a marathon, or a jog. By doing this, your body will be able to relax a lot faster, and you will be able to sleep a lot better, which is very crucial when it comes to staying healthy and fit. Some people even compare stretching with getting a massage, simply because the relaxation you feel afterward is almost on the same level.